Fitness Articles

5 Shortcuts to Sculpt Your Body Fast

Work Out Smarter, Not Harder!

I have a friend who can either build or fix just about anything—the guy is handy! I’m constantly amazed to see how he can take care of most any restoration or carpentry problem. Something that seems impossible is like putty in his hands, and he usually reminds me, as I am making a sloppy mess of things, to work smarter, not harder—a mantra that applies as much to our workout routines as it does to working around the house.

We know that there are no shortcuts to getting fit and staying fit. Working out takes perseverance, consistency and well, work! But every once in a while, you should stop and ask yourself, “Am I working out smarter and not just harder?” After all, we don’t want to waste one drop of hard-earned sweat in our pursuit of fitness. We want to get the most out of every workout, run, bike ride, or trip to the gym.

Here are five ways to exercise smarter to get the results you want without spending more time in your sneakers.
1. Tackle weight lifting at a 2-4 tempo. There's more to strength training than moving the weights around. The speed at which you lift and lower those weights is very important if you want to get the most out of your workout. For best results, follow the “2-4 count” during resistance training. Spend two full seconds in the concentric phase of an exercise (typically the phase when you lift the weight up); during the eccentric phase (usually the phase when you return the weight to its start position), take twice as much time—four full seconds. Research shows that exercisers who lower the weight in this slow, controlled manner gain nearly twice the strength as those who do not take as much time.

2. Introduce interval training. Most of us are guilty of logging a lot of mindless miles at the gym. We get on a piece of cardio equipment, set the level and time, and zone out on autopilot. If you really want to get the most out of your time, mix in some interval training to boost your calorie burn. Many studies, including those published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, have found that including several short bursts improve fitness and burn fat more quickly than working out at one steady moderate pace.

3. Switch to supersets for super gains. I am convinced that as more time one spends in the gym, the more the intensity of their workout goes down. One way to maximize your time and get better results is by using supersets. To do a superset, pick a muscle group (we'll use chest as an example) and then do three (or more) different exercises for that muscle group, back to back, without resting. For example, do a set of bench presses, following by a dumbbell chest fly and finish with a round of pushups. In a matter of minutes, you've blasted your chest and are ready to move on to your next muscle group. Supersets will not just cut your workout time in half, but they're guaranteed to keep intensity levels high for maximum results!
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • When I'm exercising, the most important goal I have is to get oxygen to all the muscles in my body, improve the blood flow, and relax. - 1/26/2015 11:40:29 AM
  • tackle weight training in the 2-4 phase works, trust me :)~ good ideas! - 11/9/2014 2:09:36 PM
  • great article - 9/23/2014 8:56:06 PM
    In reference to the comments about not being able to "sculpt", this was not an article about fat loss. It was about muscle building. If you lose fat without creating any muscle you will be thin and flabby instead of fat and flabby. A slender body with some muscle defintion is much more attractive than a thin body without it, not to mention healthier and much more able to handle the physical challenges of daily life. - 9/19/2014 10:58:55 AM
  • Really appreciate the 2:4 tip. Will try it with tomorrow's strength training session. - 9/18/2014 2:58:24 PM
  • Echoing KENACKR here:
    Can we not with the "sculpting" and "toning" anymore? It's been pretty well proven that you can't target specific areas for fat loss over others. This article has some great points premised on a falsehood in the title. Let's spread accurate information, not desperately grab for clicks. - 5/20/2014 4:00:09 PM
    These are great ideas and I use it all the time. The exercise equipment are essential to making the work out fun but for more effective results... all know... the gym and it's nautical equipments produce the best results. The only wish list is that the man in the novel give me back my regular gym. - 5/20/2014 3:01:28 PM
    I thought we all had been advised for the last 15 years or so, that we can't "SCULPT" any part of our bodies.

    It's no wonder that the concept persists in the public's mind when people who are supposed to know better title their revelations to the world with that very word ! - 5/20/2014 12:03:57 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 6/30/2013 7:16:48 AM
  • I love that Body Pump does this all for me, so I don't need to plan it! - 6/27/2013 7:48:16 AM
  • well tried the 1,2 up 1,2,3,4 down during today's session. It was much harder. Feel like I have actually worked the muscles. Its more efficient! - 6/26/2013 9:18:33 AM
  • Music motivates me and makes me move faster. That being said, when I do exercise outdoors, I try not to turn the volume of my iPod so high that I can't hear anything. It's a hard balance because sometimes I am working out in a place where there is a lot of background noise. - 5/12/2013 2:04:27 PM
  • I love music when Iworkout. I don't listen to it when I am exercise out side. It's crazy out now. - 5/10/2013 7:04:06 PM
  • Add me to the list of people who gripe about earbuds wearing robots outdoors. I commute by bike. Most of my route is along a multi-use trail. I cannot tell you how many near-misses I've had because the person in front of me didn't hear my signal that I was about to pass them. Sure, I'm not a car, but if I hit you at 15 mph, it is going to hurt.

    I've seen women on secluded trails running with earbuds in their ears, and I can hear the music as I pass them. You might as well put a target on your back, ma'am. If someone is looking for a victim, you're a prime choice. Yes, you may be strong enough to fight the person off, but if you cannot hear an assailant approaching, your chances of success are limited. - 5/10/2013 3:59:37 PM
  • hmmm... I was trained by Dr. Wayne Westcott that the 2-4 count was actually 4-4 along with breathing properly. In one ten week session with him I lost 13% body fat... at the time I did not think it was anything special, but have learned that was a BIG deal. Love this man and his wife... she was the Nautilus Director @ the YMCA I went to... he was the Physical Fitness Director, and conducted so many different studies as he did a lot of teaching for college classes on Physical Fitness... he is quite an expert and has lots of credentials to his name... most of all he and his wife are fabulous people! - 5/10/2013 2:26:54 PM

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